All posts by Carly Zimmerman

Braiding Bread to Help Others Break Bread

ByJane Yamaykin, Jewish Food Experience 

If matzah is the bread of affliction, challah is the bread of…what? That’s what I wondered to myself when I started researching, during Passover, no less, Challah for Hunger (CfH), a growing social justice organization started at Scripps College in 2004 by then-student Eli Winkleman, which became a registered nonprofit in 2009 and is now headquartered in Philadelphia.

According to Ana Mendelson, a college senior and current University of Virginia Chapter President, “Challah is the bread of getting people excited to stop hunger and engaging in that process, no matter where they are in life.” Talia Berday-Sacks, former University of Maryland Chapter President and current Program Associate with CfH, offered simply, “Challah is the bread of reflection.” She went on to explain that CfH volunteers often begin by examining questions such as: What is challah? When and why is it eaten? Expanding beyond the tradition of challah, a seemingly commonplace bread, to the questions it brings up about community and food helps start important conversations at CfH chapters.

Click here to read the complete article.

Sneak Peak: 2016 Summit!

82 days until the 2016 Challah for Hunger Leadership Summit! We have quite the conference planned for this year. Students from across the country, alumni, friends from MAZON, West Chester University, Montgomery Community County College, OneTable and more are all coming together for three days of knowledge sharing, advocacy, networking, and of course, challah baking!

We are excited to announce that we will be launching our new advocacy campaign at this year’s summit! Challah for Hunger and MAZON have partnered up to create an advocacy campaign focused on addressing hunger on college campuses. Students will have the opportunity to learn from local and national experts and develop strategies and skills to advocate for change.
Every day that passes brings us closer to our favorite part of the year! We are looking forward to seeing all the challah faces we can at the summit this July! Students can click here to register.
To learn more about the summit, email Loren.

Chapter Spotlight: Ithaca College

The guest blogger this week is senior Co-President of Ithaca CfH, Amanda Aussems. CfH at Ithaca hosted a bake with Longview senior center in Ithaca, NY.
The Ithaca College CfH Chapter began baking at Longview, a senior living facility nestled right in the heart of Ithaca across from the college campus, last year. We have continued this tradition and plan to have it be a vital integration for our involvement in the community. 
This event allows us to establish a relationship with the older adults that reside in Longview while giving them the opportunity to learn about what challah is, our mission, and how we help address hunger issues through baking. Braiding with these admirable older adults also allows them to work on their fine motor skills as hand movements can become challenging as we age. The experience is not only rewarding for the older adults, but also for our members. Engaging with people through generations can only enable us to be more compassionate, warm-hearted, and understanding individuals, all qualities we hope to embody as members of CfH!

Chapter Spotlight: UCSD & Miami University

Last week we welcomed two new chapters to the challah-verse, University of California San-Diego (UCSD) and Miami University in Miami, Ohio.

The UCSD chapter bakes around 70 loaves a week of different flavors and sizes; the proceeds are split between MAZON and the local Triton Food Pantry.

The Miami chapter volunteers bake cinnamon raisin, chocolate chip, plain and even rainbow challah; the proceeds are split between MAZON and the local Oxford Community Choice Pantry.

Is your campus interested in starting their own Challah for Hunger chapter? Contact Talia at talia@challahforhunger.org for more information!

JFCS Bake

Yesterday, CfH and Jewish Children Family Services (JFCS) staff members and volunteers baked together as part of our beyond the college campus initiative. While the loaves were baking in the oven, our Repair the World fellow, Sarah led an engaging conversation and activity with the volunteers focusing on “where does food come from and how do we get it?” The volunteers drew pictures and wrote down the different processes. After the activity, we re-entered the kitchen, the smells of cinnamon raisin, chocolate chip and garlic rosemary filled the air – the loaves were then packed, labeled, and delivered to JFCS where the volunteers sell them to the other staff members.

Are you interested in volunteering or learning more about this initiative? Contact Loren at loren@challahforhunger.org

Q & A with Ana Mendelson

This week we feature Ana Mendelson, a senior at the University of Virginia and former chapter president. This past year, Ana served as the Challah for Hunger representative to the MAZON Board of Directors. It’s the first time that a CfH leader has served on the board and when we asked, Ana had a lot of great insight from her year of service. Thanks so much to Ana, who will continue to serve on MAZON’s Board after she graduates, for sharing this experience.

Click here to read her full interview!

Chapter Spotlight: Binghamton University

The guest blogger this week is Mallory Hirschfeld, the events coordinator of CfH at Binghamton University. CfH at Binghamton hosted the 1st Annual “Challah for Hunger Games” this past month. The event was both fun, mission driven and engaging in campus outreach.

The goal of the “Challah for Hunger Games” event  was to bring together multiple clubs and organizations on campus for an exciting, challenging day that would raise money and awareness for a beneficial cause. Following The Hunger Games theme, all of the teams competed for the best challah flavor. Instead of donating half of our profits that week to our local organization, we decided to let the winners choose a non-profit that they are passionate about.

In the heat of the competition, the competitors, called “tributes”, had to use only the provided ingredients (chocolate chips, cereal, avocado, potato chips, icing, etc), to create an original and tasty challah that we would be able to sell.

While the event was all fun and games during the making and braiding of their creations, we wanted to instill some advocacy and our mission of baking of difference with the numerous competitors. As the challahs were baking, the “tributes” played Jeopardy. The advocacy component of the game included questions from the two organizations we donate to on a weekly basis: MAZON and the Food Bank of the Southern Tier, as well as general hunger facts. The game also had other fun categories including information from The Hunger Games and about our school community.

We really enjoyed this event because we were able to bring our community together not only for fun, but in order to benefit our community at large. The winners were Team China, with a winning savory flavor of Challah-liuah (tomatoes, avocados, chips and Caribbean Jerk) – the flavor sold out! The team donated to the non-profit water.org.

jkidphilly bake

As part of our new “Beyond the College Campus” initiative, our staff has been teaching challah braiding.

Some of our partners include JFCS, an organization that empowers individuals and families toward self-sufficiency, JCHAI, an organization that offers support to those with developmental disabilities, local pre-schools and most recently, jkidphilly an organization that connects families to happenings, resources and voices of the Jewish community.

On February 28, we partnered with jkidphilly at BZBI and KleinLife JCC for two challah-making programs. The programs were engaging, interactive and all around fun. Children and their parents learned how to braid challah, colored Shabbat books, and finished with an activity on food insecurity. Each child left with their own individual challah to bake at home!

Chapter Spotlight: University of Pittsburgh

The guest blogger this week is Samantha Morgan, the advocacy chair of CfH at the University of Pittsburgh. Samantha organized a hunger education and challah baking event at Rodef Shalom Synagogue with Repair the World Pittsburgh, Just Harvest, and Grow Pittsburgh.

After Sunday school ended at Rodef Shalom, 50 kids sat at two long tables waiting to get their hands on some dough. First we introduced ourselves as the CfH board at the University of Pittsburgh, we spoke a bit about what we do, and we handed out dough to everybody. It was amazing to see kids learning how to braid while others were piling chocolate chips and caramel syrup onto their already braided challah. As we walked around teaching the kids and adults how to braid and add our fun toppings, we also encouraged them to talk about what challah means to them. We made about 80 challot and then everyone learned more about hunger relief.

Everybody was split up into 3 groups where they learned about hunger relief through presentations prepared by Repair the World, Just Harvest, and Grow Pittsburgh. These presentations included information about food waste worldwide, hunger in Pittsburgh, and how to make a difference. After the presentations ended, we all got back together and one representative from each group shared what they had learned. It was a huge success. The kids were excited to show their parents the drawing they had done to remind themselves to always be grateful for the food on their plates. The adults were excited to run home and tell their friends about what they had learned. It was very exciting.

After the discussion we opened up the kitchen to give everybody the opportunity to buy some challah with the promise that every cent we made would be donated to 412 Food Rescue. 412 Food Rescue collects food that would otherwise be thrown away and delivers that food to organizations serving those in need. We made over $400 and donated the leftover challah through Repair the World. Overall it was a huge success and I hope it will become a yearly tradition at Rodef and possibly other synagogues in the Pittsburgh area.

Baking up the education of hunger in Pittsburgh one event at a time!